2014 was one of the busiest and most successful years for Dunn Development Corp., according to president Martin Dunn. The firm started more than seven times the number of affordable housing units and completed more than three times the number of units than it did in 2013.
The Brooklyn, N.Y.–based firm also made its first foray into market-rate homeownership projects and closed its largest single project to date in Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood.
Livonia Commons will help rejuvenate a commercial corridor in East New York that suffered from disinvestment during the 1960s and 1970s.
Dunn, who ran a community development group in the neighborhood in the mid-1990s, says it has been an ongoing conversation about reactivating the neighborhood for many years. “Finally all these years later we are doing it,” he adds.
The mixed-use project will include 278 units of affordable housing across four buildings, with more than half of the units for households earning less than 40% and 50% of the area median income (AMI). Fifty-one units of supportive housing will be included in the project with supportive services from CAMBA and The Center for Family Support. It also will have 28,000 square feet of retail and community space.
The $90 million development, which is being co-developed with L+M Development Partners, includes tax-exempt bonds and subsidized second mortgage financing from the New York City Housing Development Corp.; 4% low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs), subsidized third mortgage financing, and the contribution of land for $1 from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD); state LIHTCs from New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR); and letter of credit financing to enhance the tax-exempt bonds and state and federal LIHTC investments from JPMorgan Chase.
Dunn says he expects the first two buildings to open this fall and the second two in the first quarter of 2016.
The last component, which has yet to start construction and is in the planning stage, is a 50,000-square-foot Boys Club of New York.
“It’s a very exciting transformative effort for the neighborhood,” says Dunn.
Another innovative development that is set to start construction in April is the 74-unit Marcy Sheridan Apartments in the Bronx. It is the first project to receive funding under HCR’s Low-Income Housing Credit Mixed-Income Pilot, an initiative that encourages a mix of income levels in affordable housing to deconcentrate poverty.
This income-averaging pilot will allow Dunn and its co-developer NYC Partnership HDFC to provide some units above tax credit levels that will cross-subsidize to allow for units with deeper affordability. The transit-oriented community also will have 37 units set aside for individuals living with HIV/AIDS.
“We hope it moves forward from being a pilot to how it’s done every day in the Bronx,” Dunn says.
In addition to serving mixed-income populations in the New York area, Dunn continues to be at the forefront of sustainable development and green building technology.
Last year, it completed the 155-unit Highbridge Overlook on vacant land in Northern Manhattan purchased from the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) as part of NYCHA’s and HPD’s joint efforts to develop underutilized sites for affordable housing.
The development, which serves residents earning between 40% and 60% of AMI as well as some who were formerly homeless, achieved Energy Star certification and incorporates high-performance and energy-efficient components, such as a micro co-generation system that combines heat and power.
The building also features the developer’s first rooftop solar panel array, which is providing the operational cost savings to provide free high-speed Wi-Fi Internet service to the entire building.
“The floating tax credit rate went up during construction, and we wanted to put that toward greening of the building,” says Dunn. “When we had the ability to add solar panels, instead of keeping the savings for ourselves, we decided to give back and pay for the WiFi. Free access to the Internet is something we wanted to do.”